INSPIRATION, COSTUME AND ICELAND WITH CAROLINE FORDE

Posted on September 14, 2017 by Natalie Gerber

Q: Were you a creative person growing up?  Would you say you were naturally drawn to it or inspired by someone? 

A: Growing up my mom always planned crafty projects for my sister and I. After school we always had something fun on the go, anything from drawing, painting, and making beaded bracelets... she was always so great at keeping our hands busy. I was one of the artsy kids in school that excelled in shop and art - if my hands were busy, I was happy.

Q: I had the pleasure of taking your natural dye workshop some years ago and was inspired by your confidence in the materials you were working with.  When did you become focused on natural dyes and what inspired that?

A: I was first introduced to working with Natural Dyes through my studies at Sheridan College, in Oakville Ontario. At the time, my textile professor and studio technologist were integrating natural dye workshops into the curriculum. Thea Haines and Janelle Guthrie shared their sample books and projects with our class and I was completely blown away at the complex colours they were able to achieve. While Thea was completing her MA in Textile Design at Chelsea College of Art and Design, London, UK, a portion of her research was focused on developing methods of printing with natural dyes. So not only did I learn immersion dyeing, I also learned how to successfully print with natural dyes. Thea's and Janelle's enthusiasm and dedication for working with these historic techniques were easy to get excited about. Through these workshops, and my time spent with these two amazing mentors I fell in love with the history, process, and natural dye colours, and I haven't looked back.

Q: Where do you see your studio practice taking you and do you have any exciting plans for your near future? 

A: This summer I lived and worked at the Banff Center for the Arts and Creativity in their theatre department as a Wardrobe Technician. For three months I learned the ins and outs of a wardrobe shop, our team created costumes for the opera, dance, and theatre productions that were in residence. I clicked right away with the theatre atmosphere and working in large teams. You can accomplish so much more through collaboration and many talented hands. Moving forward I would love to start making costumes for local dance collectives in the city. In my own practice, I will continue to work with natural dyes and surface design to create unique garments. 

Q: You’re heading to Iceland for an exciting fibre based residency.  Can you tell us about that and what you’re hoping for in that focused studio time?

A: Yes! I am traveling to Europe very soon. For the month of October, I will be participating in a textile residency at the Icelandic Textile Centre located in the seaside Northwestern town of Blönduós. There I plan to work out of my comfort zone and focus on creating a variety of experimental weaving projects. Iceland is famous for their wool and knitted sweaters, so it makes sense to dive into a fibrous project that focuses on using local materials and colours. 

You can join Caroline in her upcoming Eco Printing workshop before she heads over to Europe.  Find out more about this technique here


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